New Welcome Course Launch – Open 2012

1 May 2012

The Dukes is to present outdoor walkabout theatre again in the summer of 2013. Overwhelming support for what became the biggest event of its kind in the UK means the show will go on in Lancaster’s Williamson Park next year.

The Lancaster theatre is taking a break from its park productions this summer owing to its commitment to stage and tour its homegrown Lancashire witches drama – Sabbat – to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the witch trials in the city.

Financial challenges also played their part in the decision not to present a park show this summer as it is The Dukes most expensive event to produce.

However, such has been the demand from the public and the encouragement from its funders for outdoor theatre to be re-instated that The Dukes has reviewed its options and the show will return in 2013. The title will be announced later this summer.

The Dukes director, Joe Sumsion said: “Last summer we said Merlin would be our last outdoor walkabout theatre show for the foreseeable future. Since then, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response to our park shows from the public and artistic community which we’ve had at the forefront of our mind when planning for the future.”

The Dukes, which is a registered charity, receives core funding from  the Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council.

Jane Beardsworth, North West regional director of Arts Council England said:

 “We’re delighted to be supporting The Dukes’ park production, which is returning in 2013. The Dukes is one of the Arts Council’s 85 national portfolio organisations in the North West – a portfolio that has been shaped by five shared goals that make up our 10-year vision of achieving great art for everyone. We’re also looking forward to the revival of Sabbat this summer and we congratulate The Dukes for breaking new ground by taking this production on tour to new audiences.”

Lancashire County Coun Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: "We are very pleased to see the return of the Dukes promenade performances planned for 2013. As well as being hugely popular with local people and visitors alike, the promenade is a significant event in Lancashire's cultural calendar and receives national acclaim. Established fans of the Dukes promenade performances and new visitors are in for a real treat, and we wish all those involved with the productions every success in the future."

Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, Coun Ron Sands, said: “The park and the shows combine to provide a unique experience that local people enjoy and take pride in. Importantly too they attract national media attention, positively raising the profile of our district and enticing many new visitors to the area as a result.  The city council is delighted its park will once again play host to these wonderful promenade productions.”

The Dukes is calling on all those who value the park show to support a major fundraising drive which will supplement its core funding.

Over recent years, The Dukes has significantly increased its earned income and support from corporate sponsorship and its Friends scheme but aims to build and develop on this success.

Joe Sumsion added: “As the pressure on the public purse increases, our challenge is to find new ways to increase investment in The Dukes and to encourage more people to play their part in supporting us. The fantastic public reaction to the park shows, combined with progress we are making in other areas, is giving us the confidence to plan ambitiously for the future – and that future will include nationally recognised walkabout theatre in Lancaster’s beautiful Williamson Park.”


For further information please contact Louise Bryning on 01524 598509 or email [email protected]

Editor’s Notes

In the summer of 2011, The Dukes celebrated 25 years of producing outdoor walkabout theatre in Williamson Park with its production of Merlin & The Legend of King Arthur which attracted an audience of 17,900.

As well as the park show in 2013, The Dukes will also produce two further productions including a Christmas show. The Dukes will also present a wide range of high quality touring events. Its popular cinema programme will continue as will the important work of its Creative Learning Department at DT3.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. They support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better.

Between 2011 and 2015, Arts Council England will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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